Monday, May 15, 2017

Lost In the Bushes

Paranoid? Or just delusional?
In a Washington Post article on Saturday, reporter Phillip Rucker quoted an unnamed high level Republican source close to the White House as worrying that Trump is "in the grip of some kind of paranoid delusion." 

Arguably, millions of people had already reached that conclusion the moment Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign by accusing Mexicans of being rapists and drug dealers.

Particularly given the widely-respected Constitutional scholar and Harvard law professor law professor Laurence Tribe's op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday explaining why Trump needs to be impeached.

Let's be clear, even though I'm admittedly somewhat biased in the political sense, I'm not simply saying Trump needs to be impeached because I don't agree with his political views.

This guy has obstructed justice and continues to violate Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution due to the astonishing range of ways in which he continues to use the power and influence of his office to directly channel financial profit to himself and his family.

Late this afternoon WaPo reported that Trump revealed highly classified intel on a possible ISIS attack with (of all people) the Russian ambassador and the Russian foreign minister during a meeting at the White House last week - the day AFTER he fired the FBI director leading the investigation into links between Russia and members of the Trump administration.

Part of the title of my previous blog, in which I used the term "car-wreck presidency" to describe the unmitigated chaos of the current presidential administration, it's a phrase borrowed from journalist Matt Taibbi's words from his April 6th Rolling Stone article, "Trump the Destroyer".

It's not my habit to assign homework or anything on this blog, but if you do have the time and haven't already done so, I would highly recommend you take some time to read it.

I've found it helpful to put Trump's publicly warning former-FBI Director James Comey about "leaking to the press" on Friday just days after firing him, into some kind of context.
Republican Senator Dean Heller
Trump's (latest) actions are so far outside the boundaries of normalcy and ethics that even some Republicans, including Nevada Senator Dean Heller, are now saying that an independent investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections and links between Russia and members of the Trump administration "should be on the table".  

The erratic POTUS is loosing popular support, even among his own base.

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted in the wake of Comey's firing puts Trump's approval rating at an anemic 29%.

According to Newsweek article by Tim Marcin last Thursday, Trump is actually loosing significant support among the segment of white voters who elected him in November.      

Any newly-elected presidential administration is going to have it's fair share of missteps as a new commander-in-chief and the staff responsible for handling the herculean complexity of running the executive branch of the federal government learn how to operate the levers of power.

But the baffling jumble of policy announcements and executive orders, which are often contradicted by Trump's own nonsensical Tweets or statements, sew disorder and confusion.

The daily White House press briefings conducted by Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (the daughter of former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee) are so rife with false statements and bogus facts that they're now being openly ridiculed by many in mainstream media

Spicey answering questions in near darkness Tuesday
For Pete's sake, on Tuesday night poor Spicey spent several minutes hiding in the bushes outside the White House in an attempt to avoid talking with reporters demanding answers about Trump firing the FBI Director.

Take a couple minutes to watch CNN's Don Lemon laugh at Spicer's attempts to justify the fact that Congress will not authorize billions for Trump to build the "beautiful wall" along the southern border with Mexico that he made a central theme of his campaign.

Each day it seems like this presidency gets more and more surreal.

At this point it's more of a horror show-circus than a presidential administration.

As Politico reported earlier today, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus scolded members of the senior staff for putting clips of fake news on Trump's desk.

Including the embattled former Fox News commentator Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland, who slipped POTUS a copy of a phony Time Magazine cover about climate change.

Seriously, what kind of White House is this when a Fox News opinionator can slip into the Oval Office and put a fake magazine cover that's been known as an Internet hoax for years on the desk of the president?

The Trump administration conducts itself like some kind of vindictive, punch-drunk boxer who ignores the rules of the ring, issuing right-hand hooks, sweeping jabs, sneaky upper cuts and body blows even after the bell rings - not just to win, but to try and pummel the opponent into submission.

That's just how Trump, who famously fawns over authoritarian leaders who trample human rights and jail or kill their political opponents, and considers Roy Cohn a mentor, operates.

Trump with Machiavellian mentor Roy Cohn
Cohn is the combative, Machiavellian attorney who served as the chief counsel to anti-Communist crusader Senator Joseph McCarthy during the controversial Senate hearings into wide-ranging Communist infiltration of the U.S. government in the 1950's.

He later represented notorious Mafia figures like "Fat Tony" Salerno and John Gotti and is widely considered the man who shaped Trump's propensity to respond to any disagreement with all out war.

To regard any critique as an insult and keep a lengthy enemies list.

Trump first hired Cohn to represent him in the early 1970's when the government accused the Trump organization of widespread discrimination against African-American applicants in Trump-managed apartment complexes in New York and Virginia.

Cohn died 31 years ago but his influence on the chaotic and combative 45's White House is very much alive today.

Given everything else going on in the world today, it's not easy for the average American citizen to keep up with everything White House Inc. is doing and what Trump's strategy for governing actually is.

The glimpses we do get are genuinely horrifying.

On Friday Jessica Huseman of ProPublica reported that Trump is expecting to tap the conservative talk radio host from Iowa Sam Clovis as the undersecretary of the US Department of Agriculture; a position normally held by scientists with years of experience in research and economics.

Sam Clovis: Science? Who needs science?
So a guy with zero scientific knowledge or degree who's loyal to Trump and denies the existence of climate change, will likely head up the department that manages research for the USDA - a federal department with over 100,000 employees and a yearly budget of almost $140 billion.

That's the department responsible for creating the federal laws that govern forestry, farming, and food.

It also oversees the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) that provides poor and working class Americans with food stamp assistance.

What's going to happen to American kids and families who depend on SNAP with Sam Clovis at USDA is too scary to ponder.

To sit down and look at the totality of how this White House operates and what it's priorities are is to face the horror of this presidency; and the damage it's doing to America's reputation, political institutions and the people those institutions are supposed to serve.

Sean Spicer huddling in the bushes while trying to avoid answering questions from the press about why the president fired the director of the FBI is an apt metaphor for Donald Trump's presidency.

An administration huddling in the bushes of lies in a forest of secrecy to avoid the scrutiny of a free and open press - and the American people they're supposed to serve.

Is Trump truly "in the grip of some kind of paranoid delusion" as Phillip Rucker says a Republican insider suggests?

Based on his decisions, actions and words in the past few weeks, sadly for America, it seems likely.

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